Our new guide Jairo recommended changing $100 each at the airport and in the end I find that I have about $15 left over after eleven days in Colombia so most will be well served with this advice. We head into town and see a much more prosperous and more European style city than La Paz. Bogota is located at a mere 8600 ft and is the third highest capital after La Paz and Quito (Ecuador).
Our hotel is located in the heart of the old city where all kinds of government buildings are located so there is heavy police presence but as we quickly learn- this is GOOD.... The Hotel de L'Opera is lovely- really really lovely... we are to meet in roughly a half hour for the orientation walk (grocery store, pharmacy etc..) but first we find our wonderful rooms in the courtyard style building. Just to get you started here are a few photos of the hotel:
this chapel was located right next to my room - making for a quiet neighbor!
We gathered in the lobby and Jairo has water- he will ALWAYS have water- so much that on more than a few occasions people say "No thanks" but Jairo knows something we don't yet know (and oh by the way you can drink the water in Bogota) and that is the fact that by the end of the trip we will all be drinking more water than ever thought possible as the intense heat in Cartagena will sweat it out of us in no time.
We leave the hotel and walk less than a half a block where we make our first wonderful stop- for OBLEAS! - OK I didn't know what they were either- but there was a line of locals waiting to have theirs made by the lovely Obleas lady (Jennifer read this part carefully- LOL) She started with extremely thin waffled pancakes that are crispy (and it turns out quite brittle-LOL) then you pick what you want on them and there are things like caramel, raspberry jam, a sweet cheese, whipped cream etc. Then you top that with another waffle thingie and chow down...
and in the Jennifer Bater tradition I agree to try to be the obleas lady for a few minutes LOL- what a joke on me- the waffle is extremely crumbly and I break it almost immediately when spreading caramel on top. She helps me out but is clear she cannot relinquish her hard earned clientele to such a rank amateur...LOL
photo courtesy of Jairo Martinez
and oh by the way, the Obleas lady and I have cell phone minutes for sale at 200 pesos a minute- with an exchange rate of 1730 pesos to the dollar that is a pretty good bargain but we do see them later in the trip for as low as 90!
we all eat our obleas of choice and continue another half block to the cathedral square. Jairo shows us the grocery and pharmacy and I make a purchase of lip balm (having ended my Bolivia trip with desperately chapped lips- boo hoo!) and then go to the grocery for water (little did I know Jairo would be handing us water several times a day...
our dinner tonight is a light buffet in the hotel (just for us) as the last two members of our group arrive from the states on an evening flight. we will do our "welcome" dinner tomorrow night. Tonight it is chicken or spaghetti with a nice salad "bar" and fruit for dessert. Very do-able for a travel day. Our weather gets better tomorrow and we have no rain until the afternoon we transit from Santa Marta to Cartagena and then only for a half hour or so- YEA!